- • 1 pound russet potatoes
- • Peanut oil for frying
- • Kosher salt
- Wash the potatoes with cold water, making sure all dirt and grit is removed.
- With a mandolin fitted with a ¼-inch slotted blade, cut the potatoes into long strips.
- Place the raw potato strips into a pot of cold water.
- In a fryer, preheat the oil to 375°. Instant read thermometers are great but in a pinch, you can test heat by throwing one fry in the oil. If it starts a vigorous bubbling, the oil is hot enough.
- When you are ready to cook, take the fries out of the water and dry them well. I use a salad spinner to get as much water out as possible, but you can also dry them on cloth or paper towels.
- Place as many fries in the frying basket as you can while getting good coverage with oil but not over-crowding the fryer.
- Cook the fries in batches until they just begin to show color. Drain and cool on paper towels. Repeat with the next batches.
- While you are letting the perfectly medium rare rack of lamb rest, get your oil temperature back up to 375 to 400°.
- Again, get as many of your precooked fries into the basket while getting good coverage with oil but not over-crowding the fryer.
- Cook the fries until they turn a dark golden brown. You can even cook them a few times, pulling the basket out, letting the temperature of the oil come back up then cooking them again.
- When you get them to that crunchy crisp texture you love, pull them out, let them drain, hit them with a good dose of Kosher salt and serve.
If you asked my friends and family what the best thing I make is, they would probably say my French fries, or as my buddy Joe calls them the “Curly Fries.”
My history with fries goes way back. My mom used to make them on the stove top with an old (and very dangerous) fryer. We always loved them, but she never could get them consistently crunchy. She would make them in batches of which there were never enough. She had quite a few theories on why they were not crunchy every time. One was the oil and she even tried to save old oil under the theory that it added flavor. Mom is very bright and a great cook, but fries were never her forte. Her son has figured it out and here is the secret:
You have to cook the fries multiple times.
Growing up, McDonalds was always the gold standard for fries. I went to France while I was in high school and was amazed that the fries in France were even better than McDonalds. How do they do it? The answer in France and at McDonalds is to pre-cook the fries. McDonalds pre-cooks them and then freezes them, a method that works really well at home and saves time on the day of the meal. The other way is to cook them in a fryer until they just begin to show color. Let them cool before flash frying them in a very hot fryer to crisp them up.
The term “Curly Fries” comes in when I loosen up the precooked fries to make sure that they don’t cling together. The loosening up ensures that the oil gets to a larger surface area on the fries and also gives them a little shape.
Having the right fryer makes it easy, but there are all kinds of options:
• Pot on the stove with a wire basket, slotted spoon or Asian wire skimmer • Electric fryers: “Fry Daddy’s” or “Fry Babies” (safest option) • Propane fueled “Turkey Fryers” fitted with 8-inch by 20-inch fry pot. This is my fryer of choice because you can get quantity and quality but they are risky…
My son learned at an early age that cooking for girls helped his popularity. He hosted parties at the house, where he made French fries when his parents were home with no problem. Of course his dad warned him about using the turkey fryer and the dangers of oil and open flame. Then one spring, my wife and I were out in California for our niece’s college graduation and got a call from Brian with: “Dad what do I do? The oil boiled over and caught on fire.” I told him to use the fire extinguisher. He said, “We did but the flame keeps coming back.” I said, “Call 911.” While he was trying to get the fire department, one buddy got the flame out with the fire extinguisher and a second doused the fryer with a garden hose. Miraculously, with the exception of a few burn marks on our patio, we had no injuries or damage.
The morals of this story are: • If you are going to use an open-flamed fryer, make sure it is outside and you have a good-sized fire extinguisher. • One good way to teach your children to be careful with open flames and oil is to have them experience a little oil fire. Poor Brian has been scarred for life. For years he has wanted no part of making French fries. Ten years later, he did make fries at a tailgating event, but trust me, he was careful.